There is no middle ground with Kanye West. I have yet to meet someone who has said “I think Kanye West is OK,” or “I don’t have an opinion on Kanye.” It’s just not possible. You either are absolutely obsessed with the guy, or you hate his guts. The hip-hop artist is on of pop culture’s most divisive and celebrated figures. His fans will stay loyal, while his detractors will stay firm in their position.
Whatever your thoughts are on the rapper, there is no denying his talent and hard-earned success. There’s a reason why My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy received a rare 10.0 rating by Pitchfork when the album was released in 2010. Unfortunately, his outstanding albums have to share the spotlight with – or even take a backseat to – his public persona. These are the Kanye West moments that’ll make you say, “that’s SUCH a Kanye thing to do!”
Posing as Jesus on Rolling Stone
This cover is just one of the many times Kanye compares himself to Jesus or a god – whether it’s the Christian God or just any good ol’, powerful god. To accompany his Grammy-winning “Jesus Walks” single, Kanye posed as Jesus for the January 2006 issue of Rolling Stone. As expected, people were upset with him impersonating and comparing himself to Jesus. The cover wasn’t the first time, either. Seven years later, Kanye posed as Jesus once again, this time in front of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. Ah, Yeezy.
His Words at the Hurricane Katrina Benefit
I mean, he had a point. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, President George W. Bush and government organization FEMA faced backlash for inattention to the hurricane survivors. The disaster hit in a predominantly black area and what we remember is the famous Kanye line, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
What we’ve forgotten is what Kanye said before his infamous soundbite – an important message, nearly ten years before the Black Lives Matter movement formed: “I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says ‘they’re looting.’ If you see a white family, it says ‘they’re looking for food.’ And you know, it’s been five days because most of the people are black and even for me to complain about I would be a hypocrite because I’ve tried to turn away from the TV because it’s too hard to watch. I’ve even been shopping before even giving a donation.”
Threatening to boycott awards shows
He has yet to actually boycott these shows, but boy has he threatened. In 2006, upset for being nominated for five awards and losing, he threatened to boycott the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2016, he threatened to boycott the Grammys if Frank Ocean was not nominated for his album, Blonde. Frank Ocean inevitably did not submit Blonde for Grammy consideration, due to lack of diversity and representation in the award categories. He’s a staple at both of these award shows to this day.
The entire Yeezus album
When Kanye announced the title of his 2013 album, it was not much of a surprise. The man who has spent his entire career comparing himself to Jesus titled his album Yeezus and featured a track called “I am a God.” By this point, we were a decade into his career and really didn’t expect much less from Kanye. Sure, eyes rolled, but Kanye gave us a solid album. “Blood on the Leaves” is an absolute force, marrying the powerful “Strange Fruit” sample with themes of modern consumption.
His proposal to Kim
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are a couple that was made for each other. One might think there’s a chance that these fame-hungry egos would clash, but it’s a relationship that actually makes sense. We all knew a proposal would eventually happen, and when it did, it was the most Kanye proposal. Ever.
First, the guy spent more than three million dollars to propose. He rented out the entire AT&T; Park in San Francisco for friends and family to witness the events and hired a 50-piece orchestra to perform two songs — one of which was his own. There was also a pricey caterer and, when it came time to the proposal, Kanye spelled out “PLEEEASE MARRY MEEE!!!” on the scoreboard. Obviously, we all know what Kim’s answer was.
When he compared himself to Hitler
Oh no, no, no, no. You don’t do this, Kanye. You just don’t. Hitler led a mass genocide that is still an open wound in our world’s history. Plus, we’re currently seeing neo-Nazis being normalized. Kanye just causally upsets people every once in a while for the hell of it. So, when Kanye said, “And once again I wake up, and I’m a monster. And I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street and people look at me like I’m f*cking insane, like I’m Hitler,” it didn’t go over very well. (Obviously.) Sure, he’ll always have haters BUT… let’s not even go there.
The Lady Gaga/Kanye West tour that never was
We found out what happens when two of music’s biggest stars try to share a stage: it completely implodes. Kanye and Lady Gaga had plans to go on a massive tour together. The promotional materials were set, the stage designs were in the works, it’s just that two artists of such caliber and talent will always have a hard time splitting the bill.
That’s why there is a clear line between headliners and opening acts. When you’re such a big artist, nobody can get in your lane. Predictably, the tour failed, as Kanye and Gaga couldn’t agree on pretty much anything, and we never got to see the spectacle that could have been.
Anytime he tweets
It’s few a far between, but Kanye’s Twitter account is a source of true entertainment. The caps lock is usually on and, like his public persona, his tweets are a stream of consciousness only one-half of Kimye can completely understand. Most of the time, his best tweets go deleted, but nothing on the Internet truly dies. Our personal favorite deleted tweet? “I make awesome decisions in bike stores!!!” Like, what does it even mean?!
When he named himself next to some of history’s biggest visionaries
Seeing a trend here? Kanye sure loves to compare himself to famous – and oftentimes, controversial – figures. In his 2016 MTV Video Awards speech, he threw out a whole list of visionaries, including his name in the mix: “There’s less than ten that I can name in history: Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West,” he said before he premiered the music video for “Fade.” OK, Kanye. OK. We’re not saying it’s not true — we’re just saying the only person who would ever do such a thing is Kanye.
His bromance/frenemyship with Jay-Z
These two have had a long friendship that the tabloids just eat up. There were rumors that their wives refuse to be near each other, onstage digs and quotes to the press about one another. For a time, we were blessed with a bounty full of ‘Ye and Jay collaborations, from appearances on albums and of course, Watch the Throne. But at this point, it looks like any future collaborations are up in the air, especially after Kanye was absent from Jay-Z’s 4:44 album and the two have publicly talked about ~growing apart~.
When he included the Confederate flag in one of his fashion designs
Kanye has had a lot of bad ideas sprinkled amongst his long and decorated artistry, but this might be the worst. For his Yeezus tour, Kanye sold merchandise with the Confederate flag emblazoned on them. He defended himself, saying “React how you want. Any energy you got is good energy. You know the Confederate flag represented slavery in a way — that’s my abstract take on what I know about it. So, I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now. Now, what are you going to do?” Just a reminder that the Confederacy supported slavery and the flag is something still supported and worn by white supremacists to this day but… at least he had SOMETHING to back up his decision? IDFK.
When he announced he will run for president in 2020
I will support and defend Kanye until the day I die, so it means something when I say this is a bad idea. A really, really, really bad, bad idea. My god. Could you imagine? Nope. I don’t even want to think about it. I don’t want to think about his campaign, I don’t want to think about the presidential debates and I definitely do not want to think about voting. Let’s just pretend he never made this announcement because there’s already too much hot mess happening in America.
When he met with Trump
Just… why? What do either have to gain from being in the same room with each other. Kanye defended his meeting by saying he wanted to talk to Donald Trump about multicultural issues. All credibility was lost when DJT tweeted – then deleted – a copy of the TIME magazine with Trump on the cover and a special message: “To Kanye, You are a great friend. Thanks.” Nooooooo.
When he called Bonnaroo organizers “squid brains”
There are just some Kanye moments that are so ridiculous, so childish and out of left field that they are actual works of comedic art. One such moment happened in 2008, when he was still blogging away and hadn’t discovered Twitter. Kanye was upset with the time slot given to him by Bonnaroo organizers. The scheduled performance was during the daytime and Kanye had a light show planned for his slot at the festival. After the performance, Kanye hit the caps lock and went on a rant over the performance, including the classic line: “IT’S NOT CALLED GLOW IN THE DARK FOR NO REASON, SQUID BRAINS!” Nice.
Interrupting Taylor Swift
This was the start of the feud that will. not. die. In 2009, Taylor Swift — then only a few years into her lucrative career — won the MTV Music Video award for Best Female Video. Before she had the chance to speak, Kanye jumped onstage and delivered the most memorable VMA speech in the last ten years: “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Audiences watched with fury and rallied around Taylor. Beyoncé (who was later robbed of Album of the Year at the Grammys, but that’s another story…) gave up her speech for Best Video of the Year to let Taylor have her stolen moment. ICONIC.
The following year when both performed songs about Kanye
Oh, you know MTV was clamoring to get these two back onstage for the “I’mma let you finish” anniversary. It happened, and both performed songs about Kanye. Taylor went first, performing “Innocent” which features the lyrics, “You’re still an innocent / It’s okay, life is a tough crowd / 32, and still growin’ up now / Who you are is not what you did. / You’re still an innocent.” Kanye, on the other hand, gave a no-frills performance of “Runaway,” the first single off the impeccable My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that is pretty much just him saying, “yeah, I can be a jerk but I can’t change so… whatever.”